writing sketch
Sketched in Manga Studio.

December has hit, and it made me think of the goals I put in place last year and how they’ve panned out during 2015.

I wrote about my goals in an old post, but to sum up, I have four daily goals in mind. Everyday I would…

  • Write 1000 words
  • Draw 2 Sketchbook Pages
  • Walk/Exercise
  • Practice Spanish

I’ll talk about the progress of my other goals over the next few days, but today I just want to talk about Writing 1000 words everyday.

The reasons I made this goal were twofold: to write more blog posts, and to write and finish more comics scripts.

How am I doing?

Well the year hasn’t ended yet, so there are some projects I’m still writing.

That said, I DID start and finish the rough draft of The Uthers, began writing a retelling of the story of Swan Lake, began a draft of a fantasy novel (lately I’ve been working on this one especially), started and finished the script for Thoughtful Dinosaur, and finished a script for a horror story that had lingered from the previous year.

That’s not even touching on the Roxie Weeks on Validation, the mini comics, the blog posts, or the editing/rewriting process of The Legend of Jamie Roberts.

“Holy banana pants!” I can hear you say. “How did you get so much writing done?!”

Well, in the year I’ve spent on this goal, I have learned a thing or two about the writing process.

1. The earlier in the morning I can do this, the better.

The thing about my brain is my inner critic (who is often my inner editor) isn’t fully awake in my head until about lunch time. I do my best writing when my critic is asleep, when I can write freely and without judgement. This is usually before, during, or immediately after breakfast while drinking coffee or tea (my beverage of choice depends on how much caffeine I need that day).

I save the editing process for the afternoon or evening, when my editor is up and alert and asking where the frick I put the manuscript for the latest comic project because wasn’t there a plot hole in act 2 – or have you even split this script into acts OMIGOSH.

Speaking of editing, I have learned that…

2. Editing is really rewriting what you’ve written already.

Take the case of The Legend of Jamie Roberts.

I’m editing this in its final draft right now, which means I’m really taking scenes from old scripts and rewriting dialogue or in-between scenes. However, I also tuck in new concepts that did not exist in previous drafts, so I have to write entirely NEW scenes for those, while still having them make sense in the story.

While I love the wild rush of creativity in writing a rough draft, when the inner editor is asleep and I can write straight from my imagination onto the page…

There’s a certain satisfaction I feel writing new material in order to polish an old concept or story.

3. Blogging is a lot like writing essays.

Remember those annoying essays you were tasked to write in high school or college? Remember how you often had very little choice in what topic to write about?

Well, blogging is like writing essays about whatever you want to write about.

A lot of the things I learned in my English writing classes have come in handy in writing blog posts in the present day – how to write an argument and make points to support or contest that argument, citing sources, and (my personal favorite) how to do the research on your topic.

(Ok, that last point is partly my former librarian self, but I still love the research aspects of essay writing. I can still remember taking my sweet time on my African Art History essays in college because I was studying the uses of kola nuts in Igbo culture and reading a Yoruba play starring Eshu. YES I AM A NERD.)

Another lesson I learned from essay writing and writing blog posts? The importance of staying on topic. Tangents are good once in a while, but it’s like tumeric powder in curry – use too much and your dish is unpalatable.

Ok, so writing blog posts, comic scripts, and a novel takes a lot of energy and dedication. How did I do it?

4. Make writing a habit.

Obviously the goal was 1000 words written per day, but the emphasis is on “per day.”

It’s really, really easy to say, “I don’t feel like it,” or “I have work early in the morning.”

I knew this going in, which was why I put the Don’t Break The Chain Rule in place.

Don’t Break the Chain was started by Jerry Seinfeld, used by Charlie McDonnell, and made into a downloadable feature every year by Karen Kavett. The concept is easy: you take a calendar and mark an X on each day you do the thing you want to do. In my case, that’s write 1000 words every day.

By doing this everyday, you begin making a chain of Xs on your calendar. So your goal becomes, “Don’t break the chain!”

This is really handy for a visual person like me. It gives me a visual cue of the progress I’m making on this goal.

While it’s nice to have the Don’t Break the Chain Rule, I took it a step further – I made writing part of my morning ritual.

You have a morning ritual, too. It’s things like brushing your teeth, making breakfast, all that good stuff.

Well, like I mentioned in point 1, I write best before my inner critic is awake by lunch, so I write in the morning, EVERY morning. Lately I’ve been writing before my cup of coffee or tea, though usually it’s after my morning cup. I actually like writing before the java, though, because the drink kicks my brain awake and jostles the bed of my inner critic. The less I do that, the better I can free-write in the mornings.

Those are just some of the things I have learned from writing 1000 words every day this year. Did you learn something new today? Drop a comment and let me know.

Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.